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Sunland Park teen gets probation in hit & run death of girl walking to school

A Sunland Park teenager who struck and killed a girl walking home from school in El Paso’s Upper Valley last year was sentenced to probation on Thursday.

In a deal with El Paso County prosecutors to avoid a trial, 17-year old Samuel Garcia pleaded guilty to one count of accident involving death and received a 10-year suspended prison sentence. He’s also required to pay a $2,500 fine and complete his college education as term of the probation.

His victim, 13-year-old Giselle Martinez, was walking home from Lincoln Middle School with her brother in September when Garcia’s pickup truck hit her. The girl suffered very serious injuries and later died at the hospital.

Garcia fled the scene and didn’t turn himself into police until several days later, claiming he was scared. Authorities said he fell asleep at the wheel, which resulted in the deadly accident.

The El Paso County District Attorney’s Office made the plea bargain despite objection from the Martinez family. It said in a statement that since Garcia was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, the sentence it agreed to seemed appropriate.

“I am just disappointed in the justice system,” the victim’s mother said.

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